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HOA by-laws vs. state law?

East Stroudsburg, PA |

This might sound odd but a few of us in the community are interested as there have been several break-ins lately, we do not know if they are armed as it has happened when the homeowners are out, or assumed to be out. Our HOA has a $50k fine if a weapon is discharged anywhere in the community, however were confused as if our home is broken into and our life is threatened (only in that circumstance obviously), are they going to be able to enforce that fine if we defend ourselves? I moved here because its one of the only places that frowns upon hunting which I am against but I don't want someone dictating how I can protect myself and my children. Not to mention the HOA fees are very high, it's a gated community, yet homes and cars are constantly being broken into.

Attorney Answers 1


The CC&Rs of an HOA are given great deference by the courts, because they are a matter of private contract. It is a collection of people who have agreed to be bound by CC&Rs to live in a place where they are beholden to restrictions that are not in the general law. Unless a provision of the CC&Rs violates a major law such as the constitution, they are usually given deference. You may want to rally other homeowners to get together a neighborhood watch, and pressure the board to install cameras in the common areas, go to your local police station and ask for increased presence, and definitely install a home alarm. Normally, with these types of HOA restrictions, the law figures you can't have your cake and eat it too--you can't pick and choose what rules you like in the CC&Rs. Whether or not this provision of the CC&Rs could withstand challenge, you'd have to get a consultation with a local HOA attorney. I will tell you one thing though, as a general principal of law in this country, can only use lethal force to protect people--not property. You can not shoot someone driving away in your car, if there is no one in the car to protect. You also can not set some kind of mechanism up in the house to shoot trespassers when you're not home--there is actually case law where the burglar sued and WON because a spring gun was set up to shoot when the door was opened a certain way when no one was home. So be careful with this type of stuff because you don't want to be the one ending up in Iron City instead of the perpetrator.

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